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Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Hands-on Review

10 months ago   MPC Team

Dark clouds were looming over Samsung Note series in previous year when users started complaining about the Note 7 batteries exploding big time. This year, however, Samsung has launched Galaxy Note 8, which is said to be modified and upgraded version of Note 7. Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was released one day ago and we have already started to get good reviews from people about it, even when the pre-orders have not begun. So what makes Note 8 so powerful that people have already been going bonkers. Let’s find out.

Samsung had realized that battery was the major stumbling block against Note 7 success. Samsung had therefore decided to deal with this pressing issue. I think the time is finally up for Samsung to prove the significant worth of its Note series smartphones in the global mobile market. Moreover, when the Note 7 smartphones were entirely discontinued throughout the world, Samsung met with huge embarrassment. So nearly after a year, the time is right to rebuild its lost reputation vis-à-vis Note series through the official introduction of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

So what special does this Note 8 anyway have that could make us forget the whims of Note 7 debacle last year? Additionally, can Note 8 itself raise the bar for the entire year so as to remain on top of the competition, since it is going to directly compete with upcoming iPhone 8? Let’s delve into Note 8 feature-by-feature and dearly find that out.

Design

One can get mistaken for Note 7 while glancing at Samsung Galaxy Note 8 for the first time, as there are a plethora of similarities that can make anyone feel like back in the past. However, do not get me wrong here. Galaxy Note 8 is a beautifully designed smartphone which has all those premium qualities and features that your eyes are awaiting to see. You want to get surprised? Note 8 will definitely surprise you for that matter.

When it comes to the metal and glass construction, you will see that it is an incredibly svelte body, and that is a good thing given the size of it. It also has rounded edges, which make it very comfortable when you hold it in your hands. Moreover, you will find Note 8 aesthetically as well as visually so majestic that you cannot turn away yourself without buying it.

This does not surprise you though; however, honestly, when you will give it a closer look, it will just be looking very much like Note 7. Almost like a replica of that. Where many design features are same, such as IP68 dust & water resistant construction, there are very few major changes appearing in the overall design in Note 8. The phone is great vis-à-vis its price though, but it still does not have the similar amount of alterations and modifications that one must have noticed between Note 5 and Note 7.

Moreover, the only considerable change that you would see, and which could be enough to discriminate it from Note 7, is that the phone has bigger length, which means a bigger screen. Further in design, there are some other good things such as iris scanner as well as fingerprint sensor, although they are unfortunately positioned next to the main camera, to which I will come later on.

Other than that, Note 8 will come in 4 colors, i.e. maple gold, orchid grey, deep-sea blue and midnight black. However, we have come to know that US consumers would only be getting the second and fourth color options whereas the first and third color will be reserved for rest of the world.

Display

As it has been said above, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will have slightly bigger size, which means there will be a bigger display. The display screen size will be whopping 6.3-inch along with Quad-HD+ 1440 x 2960 pixel resolution and Super AMOLED Infinity. Samsung has never disappointed us with its screen displays and hence this also is no exception to that given the extensive details, piercing color tones and solid clarity. In addition to that, the display has these subtle curve edges on the sides which add great ergonomic value to the phone when you are hold in your hand.

A quick look on Samsung Galaxy Note 8 also suggests that display is exhibiting the stellar qualities that are exposed to considering the Sammy’s line of Super AMOLED panel. The Infinity Display’s bezel-less appearance further accentuates the phone’s value from right and left edges, whereas there are very narrowed edges on the bottom and top as well. Even more impressive thing is the screen-to-body ratio in this phone, as it is almost 84%. In comparison to Note 8, now we can say that Samsung Galaxy Mega released in 2013 with 74% screen-to-body ratio and same 6.3-inch display seems wasteful.

User Interface

Particularly speaking about Note 8 interface, we see that it contains the cleaner and refined approach which we observed in case of previous year’s Note 7, which was more like S8. Note 8 also does not show any different results, as it is also running on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Most of the changes in interface are observed in case of software features based on productivity features and S Pen introduced in Note 8.

To begin with the S Pen, it will be featuring the narrower tip, which is only 0.7mm. In this regard, you will also be expecting the new way of sending messages to your friends through a ‘Live Messages’ feature. This will also let you create drawing or a message, which gets converted to the animated image and automatically sent to the receiver through social media, SMS, email or other platform. Moreover, you will also notice a bar on top of the message, which will highlight about the jotting time left after which the gif image will be complete.

Secondly, there will be a functionality concerned screen off memo, which will also be much more enhanced, and which will actually enable you to pin the message directly on ‘Always On Display’ feature. As soon as you will make the screen off memo through using S Pen, the display of the phone will breathe that. Therefore, that will be the most important way for accessing as well as remembering the messages and notes.

Thirdly, the new software feature are also there to mesmerize you. These features are concerned with the edge screen functionality. Now that Android is able to natively offer the side-by-side apps multi-tasking, so we can say that Note 8 will now utilize the edge screen in order to allow the users to quickly open two or multiple applications at the same time by accessing the same screen. So, rather than opening two apps separately, you will be able to prepare a shortcut, which will be pinned to the edge screen and from there you would be able to access the app any time.

In most of the so-called new software features, we don’t see any single ground breaking one in case of Note 8. Conversely, these features are simply enhancing the current foundation, which Note series of Samsung is mainly recognized for, i.e. productivity and performance.

As far as the hardware is concerned, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will be running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 along with 6GB of RAM and hefty 64GB internal storage. Moreover, the new chipset will also help Note 8 smoothly perform with almost every app, large or small, and it will be further convenient when Note 8 gets new Android 8.0 Oreo update.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the first in Note series as well as Galaxy series to possess the most considerable differences in terms of dual camera features. A notable modification in Note 8 camera is the dual 12MP cameras on the back, which make a wider angle, thanks to the aperture of f/1.7 as well as a telephoto of f/2.4. However, Samsung has also not tried to tread too far so as to break down everything, so it has just tried to follow the suit adopted already by companies in the flagship phones such as Huawei P10, OnePlus 5 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Primarily, the ultimate result by using the dual-camera system has remained the achievement of digital zoom up to 10x as well as the option of production of bokeh effects via ‘live focus’ option. While you are taking a photo, the phone will be capturing behind the scenes both telephoto as well as wide-angle shots, and this will then allow you to choose the focus area as well as the background blur that is surrounding it. This whole thing was however quite smooth during quick checking and that is because the smartphone does quite a good job with capturing the in-focus and sharp subjects, where the background shows an out-of-focus appearance.

Another worth mentioning point is that both the cameras will be offering a built-in OIS, which is a unique feature we are told about. As compared to the iPhone 7+, this Note 8 will be doing a lot better job in terms of its stabilization. Where iPhone 7+ was just badly affected by the different shakes, Note 8 won’t. So it will really be interesting to note how the new camera in Note 8 would stack up. The judgment for that will not be made now hence, as it will only be decided after fuller testing of Note 8.

Battery

Battery was the main issue, which led to the Note 7 debacle. Hence, the biggest question to the Samsung on the eve of Note 8 release was concerning its battery. This time, the battery is bit smaller compared to Note 7, i.e. 3300mAh rather than 3500mAh. Even though Note 7’s battery issues as well as subsequent recall by Samsung had spread a lot of negativity about it, still the company has made it very clear that it has invested a lot of time and finance on research, development, testing as well as quality assurance, and therefore, Galaxy Note 8 will not ever meet the same fate. Samsung team is so far extraordinarily confident as it has already gone beyond to hire a third party quality assurance company to evaluate the Note 8 battery through Samsung’s own developed 8-point battery check.

As mentioned above, the battery capacity has been slightly reduced from Note 7’s, which had 3500mAh. However, we can only hope that the processor, screen and software optimizations will be helpful in achieving the same level of battery performance. Along with the new battery, Samsung is also offering complementary rapid-charging cable through USB Type-C port, whereas latest and fastest wireless charging feature has also been introduced in it.

We can also only hope that Samsung has learnt its lessons from Note 7 debacle owing to the battery explosions, and that would be enough for users to make sure that a repeat is not going to be the case.

Prospects and Expectancy

The one word substitution for Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would currently be ‘Caution!’. That is owing to the much talked about debacle of Note 7 last year. Samsung has every year released a new version of the phone, which itself makes its older phones outdated. However, this year is different, and the reason is not just Note 7 debacle, but also the stark similarities found between Note 8 and Note 7. Over the time, Samsung Note series has emerged with more force and power to be recognized around the world as one smartphone to fulfill all your needs, but last year’s debacle has surely dented the Samsung’s reputation to great extent, which is itself something never happened to Samsung.

Hence in case of Note 8, it is perfectly natural for Samsung to remain cautious. That caution has already shown the Samsung’s strategy to neither become evolutionary nor creative much with Note 8; rather it just seems to be a Note 7 v2.0. That is also because of the minor improvements except camera that we have witness by now. The camera will do nice, but overall, Note 8 would not prove to be a game changer for Samsung, especially when iPhone 8 is just around the corner from release. Still, playing caution is the only option Samsung has currently in order to win over the hearts of people who got burned with Note 7 explosion.

When it comes to price, Samsung has not officially announced it, but we are keeping constant check on carriers, as they will be presumably the first ones to leak that. Irrespective of that, one can definitely guess that Note 8 will be priced in premium range. That price can be way beyond the $700 mark, since Samsung still justifies that Note 8 is one level above the S8+.

The preorders for Note 8 have begun today. However, the availability of the same in retail stores will be up from 15 September. At the moment, what is more interesting for fans and users is the promotional deals and bundles offered by Samsung for those who pre-order the phone. One option so far known is the Samsung Gear 360, and the other one seems to be the wireless charger as well as 128GB MicroSD card. These are considered as great pulling incentives for those who have even partially made up their minds to buy the Note 8.

So, would all this be sufficient for Samsung to push ahead its Galaxy Note 8 in the crowd in the upcoming holiday season? Let’s wait and see!

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